The story of how a teacher got away with raping and impregnating his students for 6 years.
Alongside working as the chairman, the founder, and a teacher at the boarding school, Herry Wirawan also doubled as a rapist.
The 37-year-old Indonesian man was arrested for sexually assaulting thirteen girls aged between 12-17, and impregnating eight of the girls, with one of the girls being impregnated twice.
Prior to his arrest in May 2021, Herry Wirawan worked and resided at Manarul Huda Antipani (Madani), an all-girls boarding school situated in the capital city of Indonesia’s West Java province that is Bandung. Madani is one among 30,000 Pesantren in Indonesia which are private Islamic education institutions attended by over a million students.
Herry majored in Islamic Education Management and taught religious studies, as well as Quranic studies, at the former Bandung-based boarding school.
In May 2021, Herry was charged with sexual violence against minors, for which the Bandung District Court issued life imprisonment, chemical castration, and restitution as a penalty. Almost a year later in April 2022, the Bandung High Court replaced the penalty of life imprisonment with capital punishment, also known as the death penalty.
The Southeast Asian country uses ‘execution by firing squad’ as the method of capital punishment, a method that has remained unchanged since 1964. Prisoners are woken up in the middle of the night and taken to an undisclosed, remote location where the execution occurs.
As of now, the convicted rapist is behind bars awaiting his execution date.
“The first time he tried to rape me, I got away,” said N.
N arrived at Madani in 2017 as a 13-year-old student eager to learn and left Madani in 2021 as a 17-year-old mom to a child who was the product of rape.
The first time N interacted with the teacher was on her first day at the all-girls Islamic boarding school. It was during orientation.
“He just seemed like a regular teacher,” said N to The Groningen Observer.
Madani was in operation for 5 years from 2016-2021 and prior to its shut down in 2021 due to Herry’s apprehension, the school was home to 35 students. Constructed of two stories, Herry’s room occupied the first floor and the girls’ dormitory occupied the second floor, where N lived with ten other girls.
The first time Herry attempted to rape N, she got away. The educator lied to his student by saying that he was taking her on a school-related field trip when in actuality he booked them a hotel room. Once they arrived at the hotel, Herry tried to force himself on her and she refused by causing a scene. N doesn’t remember much about the hotel.
Herry’s room at Madani served a twofold purpose: his living quarters as well as a raping space.
As N and a few other girls were working into the night on a school project, Herry summoned her into his room in the middle of the night. It was the first time Herry, the teacher, raped N, his student.
“I was shocked. I was scared,” said N. “I was scared every time he raped me,” she adds.
One among thirteen victims, N claims that she was initially unaware that other girls were also victims of rape. The girls never spoke to each other about the rapes because they were ashamed.
However, after observing that the perpetrator would take turns taking girls on “field trips,” the girls came to a realization that they weren’t the only victims; that the educator was raping numerous other students. If it was not a “field trip,” it was the educator calling the girls into his room. Eventually, they put two and two together and discerned a girl missing as the telltale of Herry raping them.
N claims that Herry never raised his voice at her, he would ask her nicely to not talk to other people about the “relationship.”
“He never intimidated me to not talk to other people, he was nice and kind. He also had a very soft voice, especially when talking to us victims,” says N.
In 2018, N got pregnant. She was 14 at the time and had no idea that a fetus was growing inside of her. As she started experiencing symptoms like morning sickness and a general sense of uneasiness, she assumed that she was unwell, still unaware that she was pregnant. 7 months into the pregnancy is when the 14-year-old started to suspect that she was with child. The change in physicality, specifically her belly expanding was the giveaway.
Following her discovery, N informed Herry of her suspicions and he told her to buy a pregnancy test. By herself. The test turned out to be positive. Herry’s reaction to this consisted of false promises and false reassurances.
“Don’t worry, I will take care of you as well as of the baby. You don’t have to worry about the baby, just focus on your studies and once you graduate high school, I will take care of your tuition fee for university. I will take responsibility for whatever happens to you,” said Herry to N.
Contrary to Herry’s deception packaged in the form of promises, throughout the pregnancy, the victim never received any treatment whatsoever. She was never taken to the doctor nor was she provided with any pregnancy-related care.
Although the delivery process is all a blur to her, N remembers leaving the school premises and being taken to a midwife.
The whole time she was raped, the whole time she was pregnant, and even after delivering the baby, the 15-year-old mother never told anyone, except Herry, about her situation.
“I was scared and ashamed for what happened to me,” said N.
Immediately after childbirth, Herry’s stepmother took the baby from N and raised him for a month in order to keep a lid on the truth from the other students. One month following the delivery, N got her son back and was separated from the other students as Herry made her move out from the school to an apartment where she lived with 3 other victims, none of them with child and all of them appointed by Herry as his trusted confidants.
At times, Herry showed up at the apartment bearing supplies, but he never came bearing any fatherhood tendencies. He never assisted in taking care of the baby, leaving her to raise the baby all by herself.
After living in the apartment for three months, N, her son, and the three girls were taken back to the school where Herry made the students do menial, physically-straining jobs including mixing cement and carrying boxes.
Once Herry was apprehended and the school shut down in May 2021, N moved back home and that is when her parents found out that their little girl was repeatedly raped, and that their 17-year-old daughter was a mother to a two-year-old son.
When asked how she felt once she heard that Herry got the death penalty, she instinctively answered: “I was very happy. I was glad that he couldn’t hurt anyone anymore, I didn’t want him to get away with it.
The now-18-year-old is currently working towards attaining a high school diploma in Indonesia, alongside raising her 4-year-old son.
The defense attorney
Ira Mambo, Herry’s defense attorney, strongly believes that public pressure is what contributed to the perpetrator getting the death penalty.
In Indonesia, criminal offenses that are punishable by death include sexual assault against multiple victims that result in serious injury, mental disability, infecting victims with venereal diseases, causing damages to or causing dysfunction of the victim’s reproductive system, and/or resulted to death of the victim.
Herry received the death penalty sentence based on the charge that his actions caused permanent mental damage to the victims. However, the attorney believes that the victims’ mental health was not disrupted in any way by Herry’s wrongdoings.
“Take a look at the victims and how they live at the moment, none of them were admitted to mental hospitals,” says Ira.
“If Herry got the death penalty because the rape caused permanent mental damage to the victims, then all rape cases involving pregnancy should also end in the perpetrator getting the death penalty,” she adds.
The forensic psychologist
“If the perpetrator executed his crimes in a brutal way, the black-and-white-ness of the matter could be identified by the victim; that the crimes committed against them is, in fact, wrong,” says Reza Indragiri.
Reza, a forensic psychologist, claims that Herry was grooming his victims. The convicted rapist’s manipulation manifested itself through sweet lies, psychological mind games, and false promises – as proven by his meaningless assurances conveyed to N, one among thirteen victims.
“But since Herry was ‘grooming’ the girls, it may have taken the victims time to understand that they were victimized,” he adds.
Behind the scenes of Herry’s stoic presence in court, in response to repeatedly being asked by his attorney “are you willing to take responsibility for your actions?” He broke down in front of her.
According to his lawyer, Herry is mentally stable: “Herry is a college graduate, he is an educator. He is not insane, he is normal,” says Ira. “There is no concrete evidence against my client that he is mentally unfit,” she adds.
The Indonesian convicted rapist communicated to his defense lawyer that he misses “his babies.”